, Peshawar, Pakistan February 11- At least 10 people were killed and 16 wounded in a grenade attack at a cinema in Pakistan’s restive northwest city of Peshawar on Tuesday, officials said.
The incident at the Shama cinema, known for showing pornographic films in one of its auditoriums, came nine days after a similar attack in another movie theater in the same city.
The attack came as negotiators for the Pakistani government and for Taliban militants met for a second time as part of efforts to end the bloody seven year insurgency.
City police chief Mohammad Ijaz Ahmed said three grenades were used and up to 80 people were in the cinema at the time.
Another senior police officer, Najib-ur-Rehman, told AFP 10 people were killed and 16 wounded. An official at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, Syed Jameel Shah, confirmed the death toll.
Peshawar, the capital of restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and close to the Taliban-infested tribal areas, has been on the front line of Pakistan’s homegrown Islamist insurgency.
Tuesday’s attack bears striking similarities to one on the Picture House cinema on February 2, when two grenades were thrown into the auditorium. Four people were killed and 31 injured.
The main Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group, whose representatives are in talks with the government, denied responsibility for that attack.
As well as showing regular movies, the Shama cinema is also notorious for screening explicit erotic films.
It has been in business for more than 30 years and though it has been attacked twice by Islamist activists, Tuesday was the first bombing to hit the Shama.
The TTP have set tough terms for making progress in peace talks with government representatives, insisting on the release of all imprisoned fighters and the withdrawal of troops from tribal areas.
The team representing the TTP met the insurgents’ 10-member council in the mountainous tribal district of North Waziristan over the weekend to hear the terms.
There has been widespread scepticism about the chances of success, particularly since regional deals have quickly broken down in the past.
Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in the TTP insurgency since it began in 2007, according to an AFP tally.
The start of 2014 has seen a surge in militant violence with more than 130 people killed.
An air force bombardment of TTP hideouts in North Waziristan led many to believe a major military offensive was imminent until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the peace talks.
Stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan is seen as important to neighbouring Afghanistan, where US-led NATO troops are pulling out after more than a decade of war.
Washington has said it is watching the talks with the Taliban closely. It has long been pushing Pakistan to take action against militants using Pakistan’s tribal areas as a base to attack NATO forces across the border.